President Joe Biden on Wednesday instructed the intelligence community to “redouble” their efforts to get to the bottom of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The story: The president said that he has asked the intelligence community to further investigate where the coronavirus came from and report back on their findings in three months. Specifically, they are expected to determine whether the virus jumped from animals to humans or if it came from a lab in Wuhan, China.
“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” his statement said.
He directed U.S. national laboratories to help with the probe and the intelligence community to create a list of queries for the Chinese government. Biden also called on China to cooperate with such investigations.
“The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” the president said.
In detail: In his statement, Biden said that in March he asked national security adviser Jake Sullivan to prepare a report for him on what they know about the origins of the virus.
That report revealed that the intelligence community, so far, has been unable to reach a “definitive conclusion” on the origins of the virus that caused a pandemic but has “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” including the lab leak theory.
He noted that the intelligence community “leans” toward the theory that the virus came from animal contact.
“While two elements in the [intelligence community] leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter — each with low or moderate confidence — the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other,” he quoted from the report he said he received last month.
Thus, he said, they need to investigate the matter further.
Why it matters? Biden’s statement follows a report that his administration shut down a State department investigation that looked into the lab leak theory. The probe was led by the State Department’s arms control and verification bureau and aimed to determine if the lab leak theory was linked to the Chinese military.
That revelation came after another report that said three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed Covid-like symptoms before the first coronavirus case in Wuhan was recorded.
Meanwhile, The Australian reported several new details, including that the Wuhan lab took its virus database offline after its director Shi Zhengli went to Mozambique in September 2019 to give a presentation on bat coronaviruses.
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